Alexander William Doniphan (1808-1887)--Missouri attorney, military figure, politician, and businessman--is one of the most significant figures in antebellum Missouri. From the 1830s to the 1880s, Doniphan was active in a variety of affairs in Missouri and held firm to several underlying principles, including loyalty, hard work, the sanctity of the republic, and commitment to Christian charity. However, the key to Doniphan's importance was his persistent moderation on the critical issues of his day.
Doniphan became a household name when he served as the commanding officer of the famed First Missouri Mounted Volunteers during the Mexican-American War. It was during this time that he won two battles, established an Anglo-American-based democracy in New Mexico, and paved the way for the annexation of the territory that became New Mexico and Arizona. He is also recognized by the Mormons for his assistance to their beleaguered church during Missouri's "Mormon War" and for his refusal to execute Joseph Smith when ordered to do so by his commanding officer.
Although Doniphan was a slaveholding unionist, he sought a middle ground to stave off war in the 1850s and early 1860s and served as a delegate to the Washington Peace Conference in 1861. When conflict escalated along the western border of Missouri in 1862, Doniphan moved to St. Louis, where he worked as a lawyer with the Missouri Claims Commission, seeking pensions for refugees.
Doniphan early adopted the Whig ideal of the "positive liberal state" and sought to use the power of government to remake society into something better. Once he saw the heavy-handed use of state power during Reconstruction, however, Doniphan reversed his views on the role of the government in society. For the rest of his life, he resisted government incursions into the lives of the people and sought to restore a healthy Union.
Alexander William Doniphan will be of interest to academic specialists and general readers alike, especially those interested in Mormon studies, Missouri history, military history, and Western history.
"Cooke's examination of the Special Services and PX System during World War II, a subject previously overlooked by scholars, shows that these goods and services kept the armed forces' spirits up under the alienating conditions of global war."—Dennis Showalter, author of Patton and Rommel: Men of War in the Twentieth Century
As World War II dawned in Europe, General George C. Marshall, the new Army Chief of Staff, had to acknowledge that American society—and the citizens who would soon become soldiers—had drastically changed in the previous few decades. Almost every home had a radio, movies could talk, and driving in an automobile to the neighborhood soda fountain was part of everyday life. A product of newly created mass consumerism, the soldier of 1940 had expectations of material comfort, even while at war. Historian James J. Cooke presents the first comprehensive look at how Marshall’s efforts to cheer soldiers far from home resulted in the enduring morale services that the Army provides still today.
Marshall understood that civilian soldiers provided particular challenges and wanted to improve the subpar morale services that had been provided to Great War doughboys. Frederick Osborn, a civilian intellectual, was called to head the newly formed morale branch, which quickly became the Special Services Division. Hundreds of on-post movie theaters showing first-run movies at reduced prices, service clubs where GIs could relax, and inexpensive cafeterias were constructed. The Army Exchange System took direction under Brigadier General Joseph Byron, offering comfort items at low prices; the PX sold everything from cigarettes and razor blades to low-alcohol beer in very popular beer halls.
The great civic organizations—the YMCA, the Salvation Army, the Jewish Welfare Board, and others—were brought together to form the United Service Organizations (USO). At USO Camp Shows, admired entertainers like Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Frances Langford brought home-style entertainment to soldiers within the war zones. As the war heightened in intensity, the Special Service Companies grew to over forty in number, each containing more than one hundred enlisted men. Trained in infantry skills, soldiers in the companies at times would have to stop showing movies, pick up their rifles, and fight.
The Special Services Division, PX, and USO were crucial elements in maintaining GI morale, and Cooke’s work makes clear the lasting legacy of these efforts to boost the average soldier’s spirits almost a century ago. The idea that as American soldiers serve abroad, they should have access to at least some of the comforts of home has become a cultural standard.
In 1973, not long after the last American combat troops returned from Vietnam, President Nixon fulfilled his campaign promise and ended the draft. No longer would young men find their futures determined by the selective service system; nor would the U.S. military have a guaranteed source of recruits.
America’s Army is the story of the all-volunteer force, from the draft protests and policy proposals of the 1960s through the Iraq War. It is also a history of America in the post-Vietnam era. In the Army, America directly confronted the legacies of civil rights and black power, the women’s movement, and gay rights. The volunteer force raised questions about the meaning of citizenship and the rights and obligations it carries; about whether liberty or equality is the more central American value; what role the military should play in American society not only in time of war, but in time of peace. And as the Army tried to create a volunteer force that could respond effectively to complex international situations, it had to compete with other “employers” in a national labor market and sell military service alongside soap and soft drinks.
Based on exhaustive archival research, as well as interviews with Army officers and recruiters, advertising executives, and policy makers, America’s Army confronts the political, moral, and social issues a volunteer force raises for a democratic society as well as for the defense of our nation.
How Grant’s humble beginnings shaped his unique military genius
Renowned for his skill, courage, and indomitability during the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant is considered a model for outstanding American generalship. However, unlike most of his fellow officers, Grant came from humble Midwestern beginnings and experienced a number of professional failures before rising to military prominence.
Grant grew up on a farm on the Ohio frontier and reluctantly attended West Point, where he finished in the middle of his class. In his early army career, he was often underestimated by his peers despite valiant service. After the Mexican War Grant’s “Hardscrabble” farm outside St. Louis failed, and when he decided to rejoin the U.S. army, he was given the unenviable command of a rowdy volunteer regiment, the 21st Illinois.
How did Grant—an average student, failed farmer, and common man—turn the 21st Illinois into a showcase regiment and become a successful general? In this engaging analysis, Jack Hurst argues that Grant’s military brilliance stemmed not from his West Point education but rather from his roots in America’s lower middle class and its commonsense values. His upbringing in the antebellum rural Midwest undergirded his military skill and helped him develop an innate humility, sense of justice, and ability to focus, leading him to form close relationships with his men.
Through a detailed account of Grant’s early years, from boyhood through the Battle of Shiloh, Hurst explores how Grant’s modest start and experiences in the Mexican War prefigured his greatest military triumphs. Ultimately Grant abandoned the traditional military practice of his time, which relied upon maneuver, and instead focused on fighting. His strategy to always move forward, win or lose, turned even his losses into essential elements of victory and characterized the aggressive, relentless approach that would ultimately win the Civil War and save the Union.
Seeks to penetrate the logic, social structure, and daily practice of life in American military communities in Germany
Army life has always been known as a life of sacrifice, challenge, and frustration, yet one filled also with deep satisfactions. This is so for the soldiers’ families as much as for the soldiers themselves. Over the years, military and civilian leaders of the US Army have tried to reduce the hardships of military life by creating an array of community services designed to provide social support for soldiers and families and help them live satisfying lives in military communities.
Unfortunately, this effort has not been particularly successful, and frustration, dissatisfaction, and alienation persist among soldiers and family member in the US Army communities in Germany. Discontent continues because the underlying sources of alienation in the Army and among its families are highly complex, poorly understood, and therefore hardly addressed by the Army’s quality-of-life programs that are intended to make solider and family life more bearable.
In Army of Hope, Army of Alienation: Culture and Contradiction in the American Army Communities of Cold War Germany, the author seeks to penetrate the logic, social structure, and daily practice of life in the American military communities that lay scattered along the frontier between East and West Germany during the final years of the Cold War. In coming to understand the life and though of these American soldiers and families, ordinary American citizens can learn much about their military forces and about their own society and culture. In addition, a greater understanding about how people work and live around an institution that is at once so important and yet tasked with a mission so different from that of ordinary pursuits can stimulate social scientists and concerned citizens to think differently about culture, society, and behavior in general.